Friday 5 May 2023

HIGH LEAF ~ VISION QUEST ...... review

"All Hail the Leaf " might be a statement that will get the attention of those who like their smokes herbal and exotic but Desert Psychlist's real intention is to point you in the direction of a four piece stoner/desert doom combo, consisting of Corey Presner (vocals/guitar); Patrick Fiore (lead guitar); Brian Schmidt (bass) and Dean Welsh (drums), who go by the collective name High Leaf. The band hail from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and jam a groove that sees them blending riff centric weedian stoner heaviness with classic/hard rock sheen and alt-rock/grunge dynamics to create a sound that should appeal to regular listeners of each. The band have just released their debut album "Vision Quest" on Riffslayer Records and to just say it kicks serious ass would be a gross understatement.

High Leaf's debut kicks off with "Green Rider" its appropriate weed related soundbite intro making way for an equally appropriate "weedian" flavoured stoner groove that leans more to Sleep than it does Sabbath and boasts, in its initial stages, a low key vocal which gradually shifts towards a more powerful throaty delivery as the song progresses. Lyrically the song is an ode to smoking the leaf and finds Presner referencing the "goddess Mary Jane" over a backdrop of gnarly proto-doomic riffage and pummelling percussion around which Fiore weaves blues tinted doomic lead. Given the song is built around a formula that has been done to death by many bands over the years you might expect things to get a little generic but they don't because there is a freshness of ideas brought to bear here that takes what can be achieved within that formula to whole other level. Title track "Vision Quest" opens with the band jamming a little ambient psych then suddenly erupts into a raucous heavy rock groove helped along with some searing guitar pyrotechnics before dropping down once again into lysergic ambience, it isn't until the songs reaches its final third that another eruption ensues and Presner pitches in with a full on throaty vocal to take things to the close. "Subversive" follows and the vocal attack on this may come as somewhat of a surprise, Presner opting to alternate his impassioned throaty howls with an almost grungy croon despite the songs musical groove remaining very much at the metal end of the stoner spectrum. Next track "Dead Eye" has one of those fuzzy circular desert style grooves that will have fans of Kyuss and Dozer reminiscing, while "Hard to Find" follows a similar path but throws in some Alice In Chains guitar tones and a little punkish aggression to sweeten the deal, a deal made even sweeter by Schmidt and Welsh locking in tight on the songs hard driven punchy groove. Talking of deserts next up is "Painted Desert" a deliciously seductive mix that takes all that was good about the scenes in Washington's Seattle and California's Palm Desert and rolls them conveniently up in one song, a vibe that is also mirrored in its follow up "March to The Grave". Finally we arrive at "The Rot" a song that switches back and forth between heavy and funky with Presner adjusting his vocal attack in accordance, well that is up until Fiore graces the song with a blistering wah drenched solo and the song goes all out hard and heavy in its final quarter.

High Leaf's "Vision Quest" is the perfect album for those looking to tie in their love of bands like Kyuss, Sleep and Black Sabbath with their love of bands like Alice In Chains, Soundgarden and Tad and the fact that High Leaf can do this while still  maintaining their own musical identity and their own signature sound is something to be applauded. If they stick together through all the shit this industry and life throws at them and can keep making albums of this quality then the future might not always be rosy but it will definitely be Leaf shaped.
Check 'em out ....

© 2023 Frazer Jones


  1. Nice review. You can also check the record from Plantation ("Out of the Dark"), their previous band .

  2. Their bandcamp doesnt exist anymore but you can find their stuff on YT.